Be the Future. Unlocking Singapore’s unicorn potential

2018 Annual APEC CEO Survey

Singapore findings

The majority of Singapore CEOs and over a third of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEOs believe that Singapore has the right conditions to spark the next unicorn start-up due to its macroeconomic strength and stability, attractive talent pool and market growth potential. This reaffirms Singapore’s drive towards being a Smart Nation and an established digital hub.

Singapore CEOs are seen to be actively prioritising future investments and business improvements over the next two years to raise their game in the digital space. Our findings also indicate more than a third of Singapore CEOs are investing in local start-ups.

However, business leaders also face challenges, the biggest of all being an inadequate pool of digital-ready talent. Most CEOs feel the Government should focus more on trainings on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and digital infrastructure development. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Singapore remains untapped with 44% of local companies not making any use of it.

PwC surveyed 1,189 CEOs and industry leaders, of which 94 were Singapore CEOs. The survey, in its ninth year, serves as a strong indicator of international business sentiment and strategies in the region; on average, respondents are investors in six other APEC countries.

Learn more of the full methodology

Singapore has the strongest “unicorn potential” outside the US and China, ahead of Japan and Hong Kong.

Singapore has the strongest “unicorn potential” outside the US and China, ahead of Japan and Hong Kong

With its macroneconomic strength and stability, attractive talent pool and market growth potential, the country provides the right conditions to spark the next unicorn start-up

Challenges

Challenges

Business leaders in Singapore are scrambling to find the right talent even as they create jobs or restructure employees’ roles. Some 29% of CEOs are seen to be creating new jobs, but struggling to fill in the positions. While another 29% reported substantial changes to their employees’ roles, 19% CEOs are reducing headcount.

Digital business leaders also see challenges in operations, data infrastructure, digital customer interactions and digital products development.

Solutions: Singapore’s key to success

Solutions: Singapore's key to success

Having digital-ready talent is the top need for CEOs to further advance in the digital economy.

The majority of executives also feel that the government should do more to train STEM professionals to feed the demand for digital-ready talent. 

In addition, Singapore needs to leverage AI for future growth. AI remains untapped with a 44% of local companies not making any use of it. While 30% said they will prioritise investment in AI, only 8% of companies viewed themselves as highly competitive in terms of AI usage in Singapore.

“This is a nod to the recent efforts by the local authorities and government agencies to increase support for innovation and talent development. Indeed, having the right environment and ecosystem can make a big difference in the success or failure to innovate, and businesses can do more themselves to create the right conditions for innovation.”

Yeoh Oon Jin, Executive Chairman, PwC Singapore
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